The world of online gaming is constantly expanding. With the global revenue generated from the industry expected to reach $74 billion by 2023, the online gaming market (launched during the internet boom of the 1990s) has become incredibly diverse. From role-playing action-adventures to 1st person shoot-em-up games and virtual reality, there are a vast array of options for players to choose from.
Some of the most popular – and most lucrative – games played online are through casino websites. Blackjack, roulette, baccarat, slots; these are just a few of the different variations of online games enjoyed by both experienced players as well as beginners. The online casino game play is a multi-billion-dollar industry, fuelling the research and development of newer and better entertainment gameplay.
New themes, bonuses and games are being created by teams of professionals every day. The making an online casino game is a complicated – and ultimately, rewarding – process.
Here is a step-by-step guide to how it’s done.
The research and development stage
Like any big project, the research and development process is incredibly important. This includes assembling the team of designers, writers, sound engineers, web developers, producers, mathematicians, an art director, game testers, marketing professionals – everyone needed to get the game made and launched.
The research stage begins with an outline of the game’s concept, initial design and (and sometimes) code and a production plan — all of which is presented to the company, or game’s publishers, as part of a pitch.
Once a pitch is approved, the development stage can begin. For online games, this involves a lot of work from developers – both front and back end – developing the code that will ultimately be the foundation of the game. Developers need to be consistently checking in with other members of the team to make sure their work reflects the overall vision and will be suitable for design.
It is during this early stage that the features of the game are decided. Features of a slot machine, for example, include bonus games, cascading reels, expanding wilds, free spins, multipliers and progressive jackpots. The variety – and selection – of features can have a massive impact on the entertainment value of a game as well as a player’s chances for a big win.
As online casino games have developed over time, more and more features have been added to both heighten player’s enjoyment; bonus games add a thrilling opportunity for extra money, while multipliers are an exciting way to multiply your winnings.
Visuals and storyline
Visuals and storyline are integral to any game. As technology has advanced, so have the options available for designers and art directors to consider when creating an online casino game.
The storyline and characters often dictate the visual aesthetic and mood of a game — something more futuristic, for example, might be best produced with 3D graphics. Alternatively, for a story involving a fairy tale an older style – reflecting the period of game play – might suit.
Another consideration is if the game is associated with a previously established brand or element of pop culture. As brand identity – and continuity – is incredibly important, the online casino game’s visuals and storyline may need to adhere to strict guidelines.
Establishing a variance system
Unlike some other types of games, online casino games have the added value of opportunities for players to win real money. Every slot machine, online or otherwise, is controlled by a computerised random number generator (RNG). Each spin is unique; there are no patterns and every slot machine game works on chance.
Variance is a measure of how much – and how regularly – a game pays out. Developing a variance system is a significant task for the game’s makers. Depending on the game’s target audience, it will be either low-risk variance, medium-risk variance or a high-risk variance level; each level determines how much a player can win or lose and the risk – and potential – involved.
Testing happens throughout the game development process; but the real indication of a game’s success is through the testing that happens near the end. The job of a Game Tester is to test the game for any bugs and glitches that might have been missed during development.
Game Testers will often play a game – even a single level – for hours and then follow up with feedback and recommendations for the rest of the team. They are there to ensure that all eventualities and scenarios have been tested and are working successfully before the game goes live.
Launch and marketing
The last stage of the process is planning for the game’s launch and its marketing strategy. Once the design and development team get everything right — the game will look great, play great and, with the help of game testers, have no bugs or glitches. Following this, the marketing strategy, both before, during and after the launch of a game is the final element; and one that can really help determine a game’s success once it’s gone live.
As the mainstay demographic for casinos ages, the gaming industry has had to adapt their marketing to appeal to a generation of Millennials. Multichannel efforts with online mobile integration have become increasingly important; as most Millennials already access their information online, it’s important to get the online marketing for a game right. It’s one of the best ways to access this audience and get them playing the game that so many people have worked so hard to build.